Ladies and Gentlemen,
Almost everyone in Singapore, Lee's first world country, fear retribution if he was criticized.
In truth this fear is to a large extent misplaced. In fact, in the peculiar circumstances of Singapore of today, Lee really cannot do much against political opposition.
One good reason for this view, is its size. A small island. He cannot be a Suharto in Singapore even if he wants to. The repercussions would be unbearable. In the past, about 20 years ago, you recall the arrest of innocent civic conscience citizens, labelling them Marxists and torturing them. There was no real opposition to it then. People did complain, but beyond that they did nothing. But imagine his doing it now. Assuming he went around today and picked up 20 innocent people, branded them Communists in his newspaper and tortured them. Do you think Singaporeans would accept that today? I think not. He dare not do it in 2008 even though there are many in Singapore, especially within the SDP who fit the description of those brave souls branded Marxist conspirators.
It is not that Lee Kuan Yew is unaware of the extensive opposition to him and his policies on the ground starting with his paying himself $3.7 million per year. Oh yes, he is aware of the large numbers of Singaporeans who are openly criticising and deriding him. But you can see that he is not taking any action. He knows now that he in on thin ice. As as time goes on, the ice becomes thinner.
He had once told the Charlie Rose interview on PBS TV that he runs the country entirely on wits. For once he was honest. It is all bravado and hot air. Nothing more than that. If he was prepared to do today, what he did to Lim Chin Seong under the ISA he will be in more trouble than he expects. He knows he cannot today act the way he did then.
Perhaps the Singaporean need not fear so much after all. If only they galvanized in a united front against this tyranny, it is he who will have to give in. No doubt about it.
But up till now he is counting of the people not having the courage to do it. But if they did, the boot will be on the other foot. The taxi drivers foot. The retirees foot. The foot of the old people who are reduced to having to clean tables in food courts. The foot of those in one room flats having to live under candle light because of poverty. The foot of those who have no choice but to survive on one meal a day.
Yes the boot will be one the other foot. If only they acted on it.
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